The news wednesday night that Steve Jobs will be stepping down as CEO at Apple has probably generated as more blog activity than the announcement of the iPad. Earlier this week, I put up a post about the potential for Apple’s success to lead it to ‘jump the shark.” I had no idea that latter that day Mr. Jobs would make his announcement.
There are few people in this world who have changed the world multiple times. Steve Jobs is one of them. From the way we compute, watch movies, manage media, embrace technology and even punctuate our sentences, Steve Jobs and Apple have had an impact. Everyone will talk about the products, the iPod, Phone, Pad, Mac, ect as physical evidence that not only did Jobs and Apple invent consumer technology, they also reinvented it at least a few times. Jobs has had the ability to take technology, understand it and apply it to the human condition. Take his journey from NeXT to Pixar as an example. In that transition he created a new genre or entertainment, gave us memorable characters and essentially created a new way to present stories of what it means to be human. I say that intentionally because if you did not have an emotional response to at least one of the Pixar films, then we need to check your heartbeat.
Of all of the accomplishments that Steve Jobs and Apple have made, one stands out to me as fundamental to our modern world — iTunes and its follow on ‘stores’. It is also a development that cost me a really cool job for all the right reasons.
I was interviewing for an Enterprise Architecture job at a major tech company. During the interview they asked
‘What do you think has been the most influential technology developed over the last five years?
Good question. I responded almost immediately – iTunes.
“iTunes, huh,” was the response, “I would have thought that you would have mentioned something like …(naming one of the companies more recent products). Why iTunes?”
My response, “because it took a very simple approach to solving a complex issue (DRM) in a way that created value for everyone.”
Needless to say I did not get the job.
I do not know what a better definition of ‘influential technology’ could be. I know that creating it involved more than tech, it required changing the terms of commerce in an industry that did not want to share– even at any price. It also meant creating a socially capable platform that embodies open innovation in terms when it transformed form selling music to creating a platform for apps and innovation. It is a business and technology pattern has gone on to transform the media, software, entertainment industry and influenced others.
That type of deep change can only come from great technology, delivered by great companies under great leadership that includes an entire team.
What will the future hold? Who knows. But one thing is sure that the things that Steve Jobs started will continue.
I can only imagine how difficult the decision was and what it represents. I do not know Mr. Jobs, nor do I pretend to, but my thoughts and prayers are with him at this time.